Sound — 10
What can be found here on this particular In Flames album is the classic sound that made them so famous to begin with. Melodic death metal was still a fairly new genre at the time, and while the prior two releases from this band (Lunar Strain, Subterranean) were also excellent, In Flames surely cemented their place in Melodic death metal history with this masterpiece. This disc contains both The Jester Race album, along with the Black-Ash Inheritance EP, which was released between TJR and Whoracle. From start to finish, this disc is loaded with non-stop goodness. Classic In Flames is characterized by lots of memorable twin-guitar harmonies over a super heavy rhythm background, melodic acoustic breaks, and superb growled vocals. It can all be found in abundance here. Every song flows masterfully, and will leave you wanting more.
Lyrics — 9
The lyrics on this album are very well written, and definitely top notch. There seems to be a deeper meaning behind all of the songs, albeit a similar theme on some of them (There seems to be a metaphorical message overall about the stupid side of mankind and destroying ourselves). Anders belts out these lyrics with sheer aggression and conviction that demand attention.
Overall Impression — 10
This album did a superior job of expanding upon the concepts explored in the previous 2 In Flames releases, and as a result, became a groundbreaking release. It is still considered by many to be the best In Flames album nearly a decade and a half later. Every song on here is amazing, but if I must pick some standouts, then Moonshield, Artifacts of the Black Rain, Dead Eternity, the title track, December Flower, and Dead god in me are regular listens (Ok, I pretty much cheated by picking half of the album out, haha). The previous two sections of this review explain what I love about this album, and well, there really isn't much to hate about it. The only slight (and I mean SLIGHT) flaw I can give against it is the production quality. While very good sounding overall, later In Flames albums benefited from even better production quality and bigger recording budgets. It's nothing that takes away from the quality of the music though. This would be immediately replaced if it ever found it's way out of my collection. Bottom line, this is a must-have for any fan of melodic metal, or in my opinion, any true music enthusiast in general. This is death metal with much, much more to offer.